Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who is black, violated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream with her proclamation this week that she will not give interviews to white journalists. This is a horrific rejection of a free press, which has a duty to hold public officials accountable, no matter their color.
Writing in a two-page statement, she said “I will be exclusively providing one-on-one interviews with journalists of color” because “the overwhelming whiteness and maleness of Chicago media outlets, editorial boards, the political press corps, and yes, the City Hall press corps specifically.”
Lightfoot’s actions are racist and a new form of segregation that creates a group of second-class citizens based on race. Lightfoot is sadly rejecting the reality that she was elected to serve all Chicagoans, not just some (for the record, Census data show Chicago is 50% white, 30% black).
In her statement, Lightfoot blamed racism for negative press coverage, somehow missing decades of the national press corps beating up on conservatives of all colors while using kid gloves on liberals. Former President Trump, a white male, was daily excoriated by an unforgiving press. This is the nature of media—a contact sport.
“For the past two years, more often than not, we have debated internally, then chosen to say nothing, to let it go, lest we be accused of whining about negative coverage or of ‘playing the race card,’” Lightfoot wrote. “And the truth is, it is too heavy a burden to bear, on top of all the other massive challenges our city faces in this moment, to also have to take on the labor of educating white, mostly male members of the news media about the perils and complexities of implicit bias.”
Lightfoot’s illogical claim that she’s fighting implicit bias by using taxpayer resources for explicit bias against a certain racial group could very well violate the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.
As a white journalist who graduated with a journalism degree in 2005, I never thought I’d see this happening in America. I hope Lightfoot is sued and brought to justice. I would say the same if a white mayor discriminated against journalists of color.
Courageous Gregory Pratt, a Latino reporter at the Chicago Tribune, said on Twitter that his “interview request was granted for today. However, I asked the mayor’s office to lift its condition on others and when they said no, we respectfully canceled. Politicians don’t get to choose who covers them.”
“If I, as a black woman mayor, don’t challenge us to do better… Then shame on me!” Lightfoot said in an interview with a black journalist after her proclamation.
Lightfoot wants a scapegoat and diversion for her leadership failures, with the Windy City sadly experiencing a spike in murders, carjackings and other crimes. The city is projecting a $1.2 billion budget gap for fiscal year 2021, the largest budget gap in the city’s history. When will Lightfoot challenge herself to do better? Shame on her, indeed.